ILWACO -The fishing vessel Monte Cristo was seized by WDFW Officers for forfeiture proceedings last week.
The vessel was allegedly used by the operator to circumvent strict limits on groundfish, specifically black cod. Fish receiving tickets used to document the harvest and depended on by biologists to manage stocks were also allegedly not completed by the fishermen.
Black cod, also known as sable fish, are a prized export resource, often bringing as much as $4 a pound at the wholesale level. The average price is about $2.25 per pound. For comparison, the value of black cod often exceeds that of halibut or other fish species. Fishers participating in the open access black cod fishery are allowed 300 pounds per day, or one landing over that amount up to 800 pounds per day, not to exceed 3,200 pounds per two-month period.
According to Capt. Mike Cenci of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Marine Patrol Division, it is common for officers to seize equipment used to facilitate fish and wildlife crimes. With the crash of the West Coast groundfish industry, WDFW officers are focusing more attention on these species.